Is Corten Steel Safe for Gardens? Advantages,Types of Corten Steel

Do you want to give your garden some flair with Corten steel? Unsurprisingly, this material has become so popular for garden design with its rusted aesthetic. When it comes to any addition you make to your garden, you must ask the following question: is it safe? 

Our purpose in this article is to inform you about the safety concerns related to using Corten steel in gardens and provide the information you need to make the right choice. We’ve got you covered, from how to properly install it to the potential for chemical leaching into the soil. Let’s sit back, relax, and read the entire article.

What is corten steel? 

In general, corten steel is an alloy of steel that naturally rusts over time and develops a protective layer of rust on its surface. Exposure to the elements is responsible for this phenomenon. A combination of copper, chromium, and nickel makes steel unique. Railway coal wagons were the first to use corten steel in the 1930s. Due to its unique appearance and durability, it has gained popularity in architectural and landscape design. 

A natural and rustic aesthetic is achieved using Corten steel in outdoor applications, which develops a characteristic orange-brown patina over time. It can be constructed from planters, retaining walls, and sculptures because of its high strength and corrosion resistance. 

Difference between Corten A and Corten B

The composition and properties of Corten A and Corten B are different, but both are weathered steel types.

Traditionally, Corten A steels are known as ASTM A588 grade A and EN 10025-5 grade S355J2W. Compared to Corten B, it contains a higher percentage of copper, chromium, and nickel. 

This results in it being more resistant to atmospheric corrosion. Due to this, it is suitable for outdoor applications such as building facades, bridges, and sculptures outside. Regarding tensile strength, Corten A has a minimum yield strength of 345 MPa and a minimum yield strength of 485 MPa.

Corten B steel has a slightly lower copper, chromium, and nickel concentration than Corten A steel. It also features similar corrosion resistance properties to Corten A steel but is slightly less strong than Corten A steel. It is said that Corten B has a minimum yield strength of 345 MPa and a minimum tensile strength of 485 MPa.

It is also often considered that Corten A is the superior choice for outdoor applications over Corten B due to its high corrosion resistance. In either case, choosing weathered steel depends on the specific application and the desired aesthetic. The more dramatic rusted appearance of Corten A may make it more appealing, while the subtler look of Corten B may make it more attractive.

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Is Corten Steel Safe for Gardens? 

Corten steel is often questioned when it comes to garden features. The main concern is whether steel will leach chemicals into the soil.

Although corten steel is generally considered safe for gardening, it contains small amounts of copper, chromium, and nickel. There’s a chance these small amounts will leach into the soil. Corten steel releases minimal amounts of these metals, so it’s unlikely to impact the environment.

The growth of plants can be enhanced by corten steel, according to some experts. This is because the rusted surface of steel provides a natural source of iron for plants to absorb. Rust on steel can also reduce soil moisture levels, which is beneficial for plant growth in some cases, as it provides a protective layer.

Corten steel can be a long-lasting, safe, and durable garden feature when used responsibly and with proper installation. The use of corten steel in food or drinking water applications must be avoided since it is generally not considered safe.

It would help if you worked with a professional to use corten steel in the garden. By doing so, any potential risks will be minimized, and the steel will be properly installed. When properly cared for and maintained, corten steel can make a stunning addition to any garden.

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Advantages of Corten Steel in Gardens

There are many advantages to using corten steel in garden design. Corten steel is beneficial for gardens in the following ways.

  • Durability-It is an ideal material for outdoor use due to its durability and ability to withstand harsh weather conditions and extreme temperatures. You don’t have to worry about regular maintenance or replacement with Corten steel.
  • Resistance to corrosion-Corten steel is corrosion-resistant, which is one of its main advantages. Corten steel forms rust as it is exposed to the elements, preventing further corrosion and deterioration. This natural process further enhances the material’s durability, giving it a distinct aesthetic.
  • Interesting Aesthetic-In garden designs, Corten steel’s rusted appearance adds an intriguing element. Based on the design and the surrounding landscape, it can produce rustic, industrial, or contemporary looks. Corten steel is commonly used for garden planters, retaining walls, sculptures, and water features.

How to Ensure Safety When Using Corten Steel in Gardens

It’s imperative to take precautions to ensure your safety, plants’, and pets’ safety when using corten steel in the garden. These tips will help you use corten steel safely in your garden.

  • Preparing the soil-To minimize potential chemical leaching from Corten steel features, it is imperative to properly prepare the soil before installation. Between the soil and Corten steel, a layer of geotextile fabric or a plastic liner can be added. Doing this will minimize any contact between the soil and the steel, and leaching risks will be reduced.
  • Avoid contact with steel surfaces-As much as possible, you should avoid touching the rusted surface of Corten steel when working with it, as it can potentially irritate your skin. Corten steel should be handled with gloves and long sleeves, and your hands should be thoroughly washed afterward.
  • Safety Measures During Installation-Steel features made of Corten steel must be installed safely and correctly with appropriate safety measures. Corten steel installation may require proper equipment and safety gear, following proper installation procedures, and working with a professional with experience.
  • Proper maintenance-Garden safety also depends on the proper maintenance of copper-colored features. It is necessary to clean and maintain your home regularly to prevent the buildup of dirt and debris that can harbor bacteria or other harmful organisms. Also, Corten steel features should be regularly inspected for signs of damage or wear and tear, and any problems should be addressed immediately.

Check the Price and Specifications of Corten Steel Planters

GZGNEEVL Corten Steel Planter Box

Metal Planter Dimensions: 24″ W x 24″ L x 24″ H, Heavy Duty, easy to install


Worth Garden Corten Steel Planter

Rectangular Plant Pot, Industrial & Residential Outdoor Use – 12″ L.x12 W.x34 H
Is Corten Steel Safe for Gardens?

Watbick Corten Steel Planter

Commercial, Farmhouse, Industrial – Long Rectangular Plants Container, Size: 
32″L x 10″W x 16.25″H

Is Corten Steel Safe for Gardens?

Worth Garden Corten Steel Trapezoid Planter Box

Heavy Duty Rustic Finish Metal Plant Pot – Industrial & Residential (Top:32″x12″, Bottom: 28″x8″, Height:16″)

Frequently asked questions 

Q. Is corten steel unsafe for the environment?

There is no inherent environmental problem with corten steel. It is completely recyclable since it is made primarily of recycled materials. However, some concern has been raised about the possibility of chemicals leaching into the soil, which could harm plants and animals. Corten steel should be used in gardens with the necessary precautions to minimize potential environmental impact. A plastic liner or geotextile fabric can separate the soil and steel.

Q. What are the disadvantages of corten steel?

However, corten steel has disadvantages, such as its high cost and limited aesthetic appeal. It is more expensive than other materials, such as regular steel or wood. Moreover, corten steel can leach chemicals into the soil if it is not properly prepared or maintained. In addition, some maintenance is required to prevent rust from spreading beyond the desired areas.

Q. How long does corten steel last in the ground?

Corten steel’s lifespan in the ground depends on several factors, such as humidity, soil conditions, and the environment. It takes, on average, 25 years for corten steel to degrade in the ground. Garden features made from corten steel can extend lifespan with proper installation and maintenance.

Q.Is corten steel water proof?

No, Corten steel is not completely waterproof, but it is highly resistant to water and can withstand exposure to rain and other precipitation.

Q.Does rust metal hurt plants?

Rust itself does not typically harm plants, as it is simply an iron oxide compound that is not toxic. However, large amounts of rust can change the pH of the soil, making it more acidic, which may affect some plants. Additionally, if the rust is caused by exposure to harmful chemicals, it may be harmful to plants. It is important to note that rust particles can be abrasive and may irritate the skin or eyes, so handling rusted metal around plants should be done with care.


As a durable, corrosion-resistant, and attractive material, corten steel is commonly used in garden design. As long as proper precautions are taken, corten steel is generally considered safe for garden use.

When you properly prepare the soil, avoid contact with steel surfaces, take safety precautions during installation, and maintain your Corten steel garden design properly, you will enjoy its many benefits.

When properly installed, corten steel offers many benefits for garden design, and when properly installed, it can contribute to a safe and attractive outdoor environment.

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